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UN Report about Children and Armed Conflict in 2017

This is part of UN report about Yemen on Children and Armed Conflict. You can read the full report about Yemen and other areas in the world here.



  1. The situation in Yemen remained grave and was marked by continued armed conflict. In November, a military escalation began between the principal belligerents, when the Houthis fired a ballistic missile towards Riyadh and subsequent air strikes and ground fighting intensified, including for the control of ports and supply routes. In December, political alliances shifted, causing intensified fighting in Sana’a between the Houthis and the General People’s Congress, culminating in the killing of former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and causing further political instability in the country.


Grave violations


  1. The United Nations verified 842 cases of the recruitment and use of boys as young as 11 years old. Among those cases, 534 (nearly two thirds) were attributed to the Houthis, 142 cases to the Security Belt Forces and 105 to the Yemeni Armed Forces, marking a substantial increase compared to 2016, with the majority of children aged between 15 and 17. Other parties included pro-government Popular Resistance (50) and Al‑Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) (1). The Governorate of Abyan was the location with the highest number of verified cases (156). Access restrictions to areas with AQAP presence led to a decrease in the ability to verify cases attributed to that group.
  2. Children were mainly used to guard checkpoints and government buildings, for patrolling, fetching water and bringing food and equipment to military positions; 76 children were used as combatants. 31 boys were killed and 14 were maimed while associated with parties to the conflict. Reports indicate that financial payments by the Houthis were used as incentives for child association.
  3. The United Nations documented the deprivation of liberty of 23 boys (aged between 13 and 17) by armed forces and groups for their alleged association with opposing parties. Three boys were detained by the Yemeni Armed Forces and one by the coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen (hereafter the coalition). Thirteen boys were seized and deprived of their liberty by the Houthis, 5 by the Security Belt Forces and 1 by the Popular Resistance.
  4. The United Nations verified the killing and maiming of 1,316 children (552 killed: 398 boys, 154 girls; 764 maimed: 549 boys, 215 girls), and 51 per cent of those casualties were caused by air strikes (368 killed, 300 injured). The second leading cause was ground fighting, including shelling and shooting (136 killed, 334 injured), followed by explosive remnants of war and mines (27 killed, 119 injured).
  5. Of the total number of verified child casualties, 670 were attributed to the coalition (370 killed, 300 injured); 324 to the Houthis (83 killed, 241 injured); 41 to the Popular Resistance; 19 to other international forces fighting for the Government of Yemen; 10 to AQAP; and 4 to the Yemeni Armed Forces, among other parties.
  6. The highest number of child casualties was documented in Ta‘izz (35 per cent), with 459 children affected. Of those casualties, 286 were the result of ground fighting, with 245 child casualties attributed to the Houthis. The second highest number of casualties was documented in Sa‘dah (187), where 168 cases were the result of air strikes and ground fighting on the northern border (2) and attributed to the coalition. The escalation of fighting between the Houthis and the Yemeni Armed Forces and affiliated groups, as well as increased air strikes, resulted in 113 child casualties in Hudaydah Governorate.
  7. There was a marked decrease in verified attacks on schools and hospitals compared to 2016, when 48 schools and 23 hospitals were partially or completely destroyed.
  8. The United Nations verified 20 attacks on schools, with 19 schools affected by aerial attacks attributed to the coalition, the majority of which occurred in Sa‘dah (9), Hajjah (4), and Hudaydah (2). One incident was attributed to an unidentified armed group in Dali‘. In addition, 11 attacks on hospitals were verified, affecting 9 hospitals and health facilities and resulting in their partial or complete destruction. Five attacks were attributed to the Houthis in Ta‘izz , and five to the coalition in Hajjah (2), Hudaydah (1), Sa‘dah (1) and Ta‘izz (1). The remaining attack was attributed to the Security Belt Forces in Aden.
  9. The United Nations verified eight incidents of the military use of schools in Ta‘izz (3), Amanat al-Asimah (2), Sa‘dah (2) and Sana’a (1) and two incidents of the military use of hospitals in Taiz; of these, three schools and one hospital were subsequently the target of an attack. The Houthis were responsible for five incidents of the military use of schools, the Yemeni Armed Forces for one, and the Popular Resistance for the military use of two schools and two hospitals.
  10. The United Nations verified the abduction of one boy by the Houthis in Shabwah. The boy was subsequently engaged to fight with the armed group.
  11. The United Nations documented 248 incidents of denial of humanitarian access, including restrictions on movement (161), violence against humanitarian personnel, assets and facilities (55) and interference in the delivery of humanitarian assistance (32). Most of the incidents were documented in Ta‘izz (60), Hudaydah (44) and Sa‘dah (31), with the majority attributed to the Houthis (168), Yemeni Armed Forces (35) and the coalition (15).
  12. Access to frontline areas was challenging and restrictions and delays were experienced throughout 2017 at main entry ports for humanitarian aid. Following the launching of missiles by the Houthis into Saudi Arabia, the coalition imposed a total land, sea and air blockade between 5 and 24 November, thereby halting all humanitarian and commercial access. A partial blockade continued until 20 December.


Developments and concerns


  1. Measures put in place to improve the protection of children. I am encouraged by the decrease in attacks on schools and hospitals attributed to the coalition. It reflects, among other things, the impact of preventive and protective measures taken, including the establishment of a child protection unit in the coalition headquarters, composed of civilian and military staff, put in place in coordination with my Special Representative. During my visit to Riyadh in April 2018, I was also encouraged by efforts undertaken by the Government of Saudi Arabia to support the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups in Yemen.
  2. The action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Yemeni Armed Forces, signed in 2014, must be revitalized and updated. In this regard, I welcome the ongoing discussions between the Government of Yemen and my Special Representative regarding the drafting of protocols on the handover and release of children and the issuance of a command order by the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Yemeni Armed Forces in March 2018, recalling that the recruitment and use of children by the Government forces is forbidden and that violations must be reported. I further welcome the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration by the Government of Yemen in October, which is an important step for the development of concrete safeguards to ensure a better protection of these facilities, education personnel and children.
  3. Notwithstanding this progress, I am deeply concerned that during the fourth quarter of 2017, the intensification of fighting resulted in an increased number of violations against children being committed by all parties. The number of children killed and maimed in Yemen remains unacceptably high, and those numbers have remained high in the first quarter of 2018, as does the number of children recruited and used by armed forces and groups. I acknowledge the Houthis’ openness to engaging with the United Nations on child protection but remain deeply concerned about ongoing recruitment campaigns by the group, specifically targeting schools as a place of recruitment, and urge the group to establish preventive and protective measures. I further urge the coalition to continue strengthening mechanisms aimed at protecting children, particularly in view of preventing child casualties.
  4. I remind all parties to abide by their obligations under international law to protect children from all forms of violence, including through respecting the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, to ensure humanitarian access to populations in need, to release children deprived of their liberty and hand them over to appropriate child protection actors and to engage constructively with the United Nations to prevent future violations.



Read the Full Report about Yemen and other countries on UN website here.

Country: Yemen
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